Hello party people. If you’re like me than you’ve started the new year by gorging on leftovers, drinking spiked coffee and remaining in your pajamas until even the cat gives you that “you need a shower” look (You know the one). What? Just me? Okay then. Let’s talk about blogs.
The last topic of 2014 was ‘New Game+’ where writers took up virtual pen and pad to talk about revisiting a game from the perspective of experience:
How is replaying a game different from playing a game for the first time? Does the subtext change when a hero is slaying basement rats at level 99 or does it just make it easier to whoosh through the plot? Does New Game+ offer new any challenges or is it just an afterthought? What about you, player? Are you any different when you return to a game’s beginning having seen the end? Does nostalgia enhance the experience or were you better off with fresh eyes?
We want to hear about the beginning after the end. In an age of endless cliffhangers and reinventions, what is it like to be where you’ve been before? Tell us about the New Game+ file that changed how you saw a game, or how that game closest to your heart falls apart with a mature look. Tell us about how your seasoned D&D character fared in a brand new campaign with brand new players. Have games as a whole changed with the experience gained in old cycles? What do we make of remastered classics? Are they a form of + to the New Game or does the gloss break the spirit of the old game? What has changed more in the last few years? Games or players? What does that mean? In short, we want to know what novelty looks like from the perspective of experience.
Phill English, the second half of Tim and Phill Talk About Games, expresses frustration that all his experience with games makes such a creatively stagnant medium difficult to continue enjoying:
…a lot of the games I play now feel as though I’ve walked straight from the campaign of one game, through a multiverse wormhole, and am starting a new game+ in the next world over. These multiverses are generally limited to genre stereotypes, and some are more closely carbon-copied than others.
However, English ends on a bright note, claiming that games can be exciting as a craft and as a place to experiment. With that attitude, Phill, you’ll only find friends here.
The Rev is quickly becoming a regular member of the BoRT club and I have to admit that every month I look forward to seeing more of their work. This time, they respond to Mr. English’s article directly, describing games as an exercise of imposing oneself on a system. Or in their own words: “So what if game systems are at heart cynical mathematical formulas? By responding to them in a real way, I make them more real. By upholding morality, I make morality more real. Even if truth is human-made, that only means that it can be made true by humans.”
The author refers to Hegelian ethics to explain that the best uses of New Game+ allows player to become their own walkthrough or to find new ways to impose themselves, while the worst are a cynical chase for more content.
Speaking of regular BoRT-sians, Liegh Harrison offers another great essay from her blog, As Houses, to discuss Wolfenstein: The New Order’s first and most troubling decision. Harrison admires the game for forcing players to examine their decisions without an easy option like New Game+ to find alternative paths:
I’m glad The New Order contains this little ‘fuck you’ to its players if I’m being honest. “‘If you want to play the game again’ I hear it say ‘then be my guest, but bugger me if you’re doing it in an attempt to nurse your own personal guilt or re-imagine my already re-imagined history: that isn’t the way this works.’ Life is too short to worry about the way you did things in the past, especially considering you more than likely cocked it up spectacularly.
Over at Hub Pages, Seth Tomko compares how New Game+ functions differently in Chrono Trigger and Dark Souls. While New Game+ in both games suggest a sense of eternity, the mode is empowering in Chrono Trigger and allows the player to find new endings whereas the increased difficulty of Dark Souls in later playthroughs only makes the world’s doom seem more cyclical and inevitable.
Writing for Entertainment Buddha, Raymond Porreca discusses the way that 2009’s Nier subverts the expectations of New Game+ by recontextualizing enemy encounters in the second playthrough of the plot. Porreca doesn’t directly respond to any of the other writers in this roundup but he does offer a unique perspective that is more interesting in light of what some of the above have written about the subject.
Tate Geborkoff plays us out this month with an enthusiastic celebration of Persona 4 Golden written for Electronic Bureau. Geborkoff praises the game’s New Game+ mode for letting him explore the cast and setting he had become so attached to. For Geborkoff, having a shortcut past the heavy lifting and taking a load off with the game is the closest thing he’s found to that feeling of playing games in his youth:
I care so deeply for these characters, who are not just battling their own demons, but also learning to see the world from a different angle. Every interaction with them is special and often hilarious and I’m so glad that NG+ allows me to maximize the time I spend with them, until of course, the year comes to an end and I have to get on that train that takes me away from the people I’ve come to deeply love.
I hope you’re as happy with I am with this month’s roundup. But, if you’re not, you’re free to take all the wisdom you’ve earned into next month’s Blogs of the Round Table to try and get the real ending. If you’re so inclined, you’re more than free to include the articles of this month’s Round Table in your own blog by copying the source code for our extremely fancy Link-o-Matic 5000:
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Thank you again, writers and readers, for participating this month, and keep a very close eye for Lindsey’s January topic to kick off 2015.